The fallout between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Arsenal has been one of the most unpleasant news in recent memory. The tension between Arsenal boss Arteta and the Gabon striker had been brewing for a long time. It reached its peak when Auba flew to Spain to force a transfer with Barcelona on the transfer deadline day. How it pans out for Aubameyang or Arsenal from here onwards is yet to be materialized, but how things ended between the two parties was not gracious, at the very least.
Auba joined Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018 for a fee of €63.75m. Since joining the Gunners, he had done plenty for the team, and things were working pretty well. He had a flying start in the London club. In the first two years with Arsenal (Feb 2018 – Feb 2020), no players scored as many Premier League goals as Aubameyang (49). That tally saw him equalling stellar Salah, while 12 ahead of prolific Harry Kane. So, that was simply incredible. His performances saw him elevate to the position of captain in November 2019. He also won the Golden Boot in the 18/19 season alongside Salah and Mane with 22 goals each.
Auba started to fall from grace gradually. His numbers began declining, and his issues started going south. Many believe that the start of his slump coincided with his contract renewal in September 2020. That deal saw him earn £350,000 per week, making him the highest earner in the club. The irony is that it was Arteta, who pushed through the deal. But the descent was so alarming that often people needed a reminder of how good he used to be. He has had a history of disciplinary issues. Just before joining Arsenal, the same had caused a delay in the move. But his late arrival for a match against Southampton in December was the start of the meltdown. Following that, Auba was stripped of the captaincy officially. But that was not it. He didn’t feature for Arsenal at all since December 6.
While Arteta refused to cave in despite the glaring shortcomings in the goal department, Aubameyang started seeking a new home for himself – Barcelona and Juventus being his top priority. However, Juventus signed Vlahovic, and it closed doors for both Auba and Arsenal as they were also eyeing the 22-year-old striker. That led him desperate to take matters into his own hand. He flew to Spain to force a transfer to Blaugrana on the deadline day and even agreed to a hefty pay-cut. As a result, Arsenal saved around £25m in wages following Aubameyang’s departure. But they have a problem of their own – they have not been scoring goals, and as of now, both their renowned strikers’ contract expires this season.
While the end could have been a bit sweeter, it is a fact that Aubameyang was a world-class striker for most parts with Arsenal. He scored 92 goals in 163 appearances. How long will it take for the Gunners to move on from Auba is yet to unfold, but he has made peace with the situation and found an abode in the Catalonia side. In his first appearance in the starting XI, he scored a hat-trick against Valencia, making him the first-ever player to score the hat-trick in Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Premier League, and La Liga. And most recently, he scored another goal in the second leg against Napoli in the Europa League RO32. So, the Auba story may have yet another twist in the reckoning.
Almost every player has performed well in Barcelona since Xavi took over. Meanwhile, the Gabonese forward seems to take Xavi’s philosophy and strategies like a duck to water. He has proven himself to whichever league he’s been to. So, it won’t be surprising if he performs well in La Liga too. Just 32 and his proven track record, things are far from over, or at least we hope so.